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England vs Malta – EURO 2024 Qualifier

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re all well.

On Friday 17th November 2023, England were back in Wembley for the final time this year to play Malta in a EURO 2024 Qualifier.

With England securing qualification in their last match against Italy back in September, this game brought no pressure for the Three Lions who would just be looking to extend their already comfortable lead in group C.

Their opponents were Michele Marcolini’s Malta. Currently ranked 171st by FIFA, Malta came into the game having lost their last three matches, with two of those not featuring a goal from the side. Malta sat rock bottom of group C with 0 points, unable to qualify for EURO 2024 even with a win in this game.

Gareth Southgate had his 25-man squad disrupted after the announcement with players dropping out with injuries. These players were Lewis Dunk, James Maddison, Callum Wilson, Levi Colwill and Jude Bellingham who had all been in fine form for their clubs. This left room for debutant call ups for Cole Palmer, Ezri Konsa and Rico Lewis who had too been playing well for their clubs. The squad featured many regulars including Bukayo Saka who was back fit following missing on the September squad.

Before kick-off there was a tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton who passed away last month, the world cup winners number nine shirt was placed on the centre circle at Wembley followed by a minute of applause. Wembley also had a display which read ‘Sir Bobby’ during this time.

Last time the two sides met back in June it ended in a 4-0 victory for England, so the home side would’ve been hoping for a similar outcome!

England won their final home game of 2023 beating Malta 2-0 at Wembley.

An early own goal from Malta’s Enrico Pepe was the only difference between the teams until late in the second half when Harry Kane netted the second of the night securing the win for England.

It was Malta who started the game brighter. A very early chance materialised through Teddy Teuma but his shot went just wide of Jordan Pickford’s post.

Though it didn’t take long for England to gain control and find the opener. Phil Foden took a pass from Marc Guehi in his stride and drove towards goal, his cross didn’t meet the intended Harry Kane but the ball was deflected over the line by a Maltese defender to open the scoring.

The goal didn’t impact the Maltese confidence as they went up the other end shortly after for a chance of their own. Helped on by a giveaway by Harry Maguire, Paul Mbong had lots of space to run into but his shot went far over of bar.

In an end to end game, England had a chance to extend their lead from the penalty spot as Kane was challenged by goalkeeper Henry Bonello after he miscontrolled the ball in his area. But the referee pointed the other way, and booked Kane for simulation.

Proving how uneventful the first half way the classic Mexican wave in the stands started on the 35th minute!

After not their finest first hour. Halftime substitute Bukayo Saka linked up with Trent Alexander-Arnold through a quick one-two which opened up Malta’s back line, though the Arsenal winger had his shot blocked out for a corner.

England continued to dominate possession but just lacked quality in the final third.

Alexander-Arnold had a strong game in midfield, his impressive long ball up to Marcus Rashford put the winger through behind but the Maltese defenders did well to backtrack denying a chance to shoot. In the same move the two northerns unfortunately collided forcing Gareth Southgate into a change seeing Rashford be replaced by Cole Palmer for his Three Lions debut.

The debutant caused issues for Malta winning a free kick on the edge of the box. Alexander-Arnold took responsibility but the number 10 wasn’t able to keep it on target seeing his shot curl over the bar.

When the Three Lions finally found their rhythm down the right and we’re able to piece together some fast pace passes they were rewarded with a goal from Harry Kane to double their lead.

This gave them momentum to go on and score another in less than a minute. A direct run from Declan Rice ended with the number 18 finding the back of the net from outside the box. But unfortunately it was disallowed for offside after a VAR check.

Malta continued go try and hit England on the break with their closest chance coming from Yannick Yankam who could only find the side netting.

The final chance of the night under the Wembley lights came from Alexander-Arold, who shot from outside the box. The attempt was powerful and wasn’t simple for the keeper but Bonello did enough to keep the ball out to see the game end 2-0.

Overall a poor display from England in a very dull match, though the fact they have qualified could play a part in this. I thought Phil Foden started well but as the game progressed he wasn’t involved as much, but the player of the match was probably Trent Alexander-Arnold who looks a lot stronger and confident in the midfield, minus his incident with Marcus Rashford! Finally another proud moment to see to see Marc Guehi play the full 90 minutes and come away with a clean sheet.

England have their final qualifying game Tuesday, away to North Macedonia. They will return to Wembley in March to face Brazil for what should be a great game!

The next game I’m attending is Crystal Palace away to West Ham in a little over a week, so look out for that post!

Thank you for reading.

Ellie Xx

1 Comment

Thanks Ellie. The Sir Bobby tribute looked great. Not a good night for Southgate I guess so England needs to thrash N Mac on Tuesday (but didn't they beat Italy once?)

Great report as usual. Best wishes to you

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